Sunday, August 05, 2007

EU Reform Treaty: more detail

The official English version of the EU Reform Treaty [PDF] has now been released, Christopher Booker has published a compelling analysis. His first point deals with the elevation of the European Council to an institution, as I discussed before, which compels our ministers to work primarily towards the objectives of the EU over their own states.

And what are those objectives?
Turn back to Article 3 of the new treaty, which sets out the "objectives of the Union", and we see that it has been extended since the draft constitution. It is now drawn so widely that there is virtually nothing which cannot be regarded as an EU objective, and the council's prime function is to promote those objectives. As this and other parts of the treaty make clear, the Union will have power to shape and decide policy in almost every field, from defence and foreign affairs to how national economies should be run.

This has become ever more obvious. After all, despite the name-change, the EU Foreign Minister's post still exists and this in itself should be worrying; after all, are our foreign policy objectives the same as that of, say, France? Or Italy? I sincerely doubt it.

But this is the least of it.
Furthermore, if the union wishes to take any powers not specifically authorised by the treaty, it will be able to do so under a new version of Article 308. Until now this applied only to measures needed to promote the "common market", but its new wording amounts to a blank cheque. It will be allowed new powers over anything it wants, in accordance with those all-embracing "objectives of the union".

As Open Europe's analysis [PDF] makes very clear, this is a self-amending Treaty. [Emphasis mine.]
A self-amending treaty for the first time. No more treaties or referendums.

In other words, this is it: if we do not have a referendum on this Treaty, we will never get the chance again (unless it is a referendum on leaving completely).

And back to Booker.
One of the biggest potential bombshells is hidden away in Article 262, which says that, by decision of the European Council, the EU "may establish new categories of own resources". In other words, it will have the power to levy its own taxes.

Our EU comrades have, of course, been pushing for something like this for sometime, particularly since the budget wrangles under Tony Blair's presidency of the EU (and beyond). So, the EU will start to impose its own taxes.

You think that these taxes are too high? Tough shit. You never voted for them and you will never, ever get to vote for them. No matter which of the three main parties you vote for, they will be powerless to abolish or amend those taxes.
What all this amounts to is that the European Union finally wishes to set itself up as the supreme government of Britain and 26 other countries, with unlimited powers over every aspect of our lives: a government we cannot dismiss and which is unaccountable. It is nothing less than a complete coup d'etat.

We are, in effect, being conquered by a foreign dictatorship. Dan Hannan MEP, in his article urging people to sign the Telegraph petition on a referendum, quotes John of Gaunt on how England has been defeated by Treaties: I can think of nothing more apt.
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.

Quite so. And I fear that the cowardly, treacherous and corrupt MPs will continue to take us down this road, assisted by the ignorance, apathy and wilful stupidity of the British public. A public so crap, that they would elect, again, Gordon Brown: a man who...
... wishes to see this imposed on us without allowing us a referendum, in direct breach of a promise on which he was elected, and now on the basis of the transparent lie that it has no bearing on our constitutional rights. It should be enough to blow the minds of everyone in Britain.

But it won't, not least because of fuckwits like Cicero's Songs (now, don't get me wrong: I have met Cicero on 18DS a number of times, and have immense respect for the man generally. However, in this post, he not only displays a shameful political naivety but also an unbearable party-political partisanship).
William Hague announced at 7.45 this morning that his party opposed the treaty and that they would demand a referendum. So not only had the Conservatives apparently read through the treaty since dawn, they had also taken the serious step of deciding that it was completely wrong and should be entirely opposed before many people had even eaten breakfast.

Which is, of course, horseshit. A big, stinking pile of fresh and stinking horseshit. Cicero's post was written on the second of August; as I reported on June 22, researchers were working on a translation of the draft Treaty in mid June. I would say that the Conservatives have spent an inordinate amount of time translating and studying the Treaty, and the ramifications, in depth: certainly, evidently, rather more than Cicero has.
Please bear in mind that the document that was published was a discussion draft, and is by no means the completed treaty.

However, as those of us who have been following this engagement know, the agenda formed to govern the IGC does not allow for substantial alteration of this Treaty; the comrades are taking no risks this time.
However, the Conservatives refuse to engage in discussing precisely what they oppose, just simply that they do oppose.

It's difficult to know where to start, really. So let's just say we oppose without everyone's eyes glazing over as we meander through the precise offending Articles.
It may be that they have been in deep thought since the French version was published, considering all the nuances in that language, but there is no evidence that more than a handful of the Conservative front bench can even read French, and those that do, do not seem to have been engaged in detailed discussions with their mono-lingual colleagues.

Fucking hell, this is ignorance of the very first water; even if most of the Tory MPs and MEPs are monolingual, that does not mean that their assistants are. UKIP has at least one native French speaker in Brussels that I know of: do you really think that the Tories have no French-speaking natives on their staff at all? Don't be so fucking naive.
So they must have adopted their position in the very brief period between the publication of the English text and appearing on the Today programme.

This is fucking bullshit, quod erat demonstrandum. But, incredibly, Cicero continues...
This is a Party that seriously believes that it is a contender for power?? To denounce a treaty that they can hardly have read is a contemptible display of banal and shallow politics. This is what shows up Cameron's house of cards. Their positions are based on ignorance- bullspiel and spin- and not considered or thoughtful and still less informed positions in any way.

I'm sorry, old chap, but you are amending your view of the Treaty on the basis of far fewer man-hours and with far fewer resources than the Tories have: remind me again, who the practiser of "banal and shallow politics"? But then what do we expect from the supporter of a party whose leader criticised Blair for not conceding enough, eh?
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said the treaty had not come "cost-free" for Britain.

"By opting out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, there is now the danger of a two-tier citizenship in the EU," Mr Campbell said.

Still, incredibly and with a quite staggering lack of insight, Cicero carries on in the same vein.
William Hague should be ashamed of himself and anyone who wants the best for our country should note that the skiving Tories continually fail to do their home work. On Europe, as on much else, the Conservatives adopt ignorant and often extreme positions without even bothering to check their facts.

Unlike Cicero, who is so spot on, yah.
Those facts have changed, but the prejudices of the Tory Party will not allow them to even consider this. They press on with a dangerous and negative approach without pausing for breath. This immaturity is what makes the Conservatives unfit for office and will tragically continue to hand power to an over-mighty Labour party that despite its long, and increasing, list of faults at least has the advantage of appearing to take politics seriously.

Alternatively, one could point out that it is ignorant and immature LibDem critics like Cicero who continue to hand power to Labour, by lying about such things as the EU Constitution Reform Treaty.
I am happy to support any necessary referendum, but on the principle that significant constitutional change is involved.

And how does one measure that, I wonder? Where is our written Constitution, precisely? Tell you what, old bean, how about we agree that when we are part of an organisation whose law over-rides our own—what I like to call "losing our sovereignty"—then we have a referendum every time that that entity suggest new laws—how would that suit?

In which case, since European Community law was shown to have supremacy over our own, in the seventies, over the Common Fisheries Policy, we should have a referendum every time anything is suggested.
After the decisive rejection of the Constitutional treaty, the Reform treaty is now amendments of previous treaties, and therefore by definition no longer an issue of changing the constitutional status of the UK (indeed it is arguable about whether there was any fundamental constitutional change even in the original Constitutional treaty).

How the hell do you come to that conclusion? Look, sunshine: EU law has sumpremacy over our own: that is a Constitutional change for this country. Full stop.
At the least more reading of the new treaty causes me to reconsider my previous view that a referendum should indeed take place.

Then you are a fucktard.
The Conservative position is simply absurd, and the vehemence with which they hold onto a policy based on ignorance is not far short of disgraceful.

Look, everyone knows that I hold no brief for the Tories, but given the massive pile of crap that you've just pulled out of your guts, I would consider that line to be beyond hypocrisy.

In the name of fuck, by all means come clean and admit that you would rather that Britain were subsumed into a Greater Europe, but do not use these weasel words to avoid the issue of a referendum on this Treaty. But then, we expect dishonesty from the Liberal Democrats: after all, even their name is a lie.


FURTHER TREATY READING from EU Referendum.

I shall keep this list updated on future posts.

1 comment:

chris said...

Everywhere else the various political elites are happily proclaiming that between it is practically identical to the constitutional treaty, as do British EUsceptics, uniquely the British EUPhiles say that it is completely different just as they would said every other treaty did not hand significant power to Brussels.

Quite frankly if Bertie Ahern, Richard North and M. Valery Giscard d'Estaing (who drafted the bloody constitution in the first place) agree that it is the constitution by another name then that is good enough for me.